michael walker


The Sonnet


I came across the sonnet at high school: the form
appealed with its fourteen lines and rhyme scheme.
I read Petrarch's love sonnets and they seemed
to have an octave and sestet as the norm.

Sir Thomas Wyatt took the Petrarchan sonnet from Italy to England.
Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey, launched the English version,
which had three quatrains and a couplet like an epigram.
William Shakespeare wrote love sonnets almost on demand.

Reading alone, I wanted to be a citizen of the world like Wyatt,
an innovator like Howard, and so in love like Shakespeare.
Eager to impress students and to be an actor, I found that
I could recite the sonnets from memory, closing the books.

I like the modern sonnet of fourteen straight lines, little rhyme.
It takes its rightful place with the sonnets of earlier times.

Submitted: Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Edited: Saturday, October 25, 2014

Topic of this poem: sonnet


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Poet's Notes about The Poem

I taught very many sonnets in high schools, sometimes with the book closed. I went to Shakespeare's place of birth, Stratford-Upon-Avon, where I saw his play 'Richard 11'.

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